Members of Soundgarden Didn’t Know Who Wrote “Superunknown,” and Other Revelations

It’s a weird thing to love a retail chain for, but Guitar Center does land some bitchin’ interviews. As the lowly overseer of a blog, I don’t usually get access to the likes of Metallica. Or Soundgarden.

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They also do a good job getting these musicians to open up and reveal unexpected info. For example maybe it’s just me, but the Soundgarden guys seem to be tip-toeing around their notoriously volatile chemistry. When Chris Cornell talks about the difficulty of locking in with the other musicians in the band, you’ve got to wonder if he was speaking metaphorically.

Two stories from this 12-minute featurette are  favorites of mine. First of all, Matt had no idea that Kim and Chris wrote “Superunkown” together, and always thought it was purely a Chris joint. Second, the band loved bassist Ben Shepherd’s crappy drumming on his “Head Down” demo (to quote them: “Ben, you drum like someone falling down the stairs”), so when they tracked it for the album they had him and Soundgarden drum tech Gregg Keplinger lay down some intentionally sloppy drum overdubs to keep the vibe.

A side story about “Head Down”. I once worked with an engineer who interned with Superunknown producer Michael Beinhorn. Apparently the snare drum on that track was built out of a 14″ lead pipe that Matt Cameron cut to an 8″ depth and then secured tuning lugs on to. Fucking metal.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.